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Can you imagine a world without FREE knowledge?

Over the past week you may have tried to access sites such as Wikipedia and Wordpress amongst others and found that their content had been taken offline. Thousands of sites took their content offline in order to make a stance against the potential damage which could be caused by the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa).

These are two bills which are currently being considered by members of the US congress and through these on Thursday the Department of Justice announced the shutdown of Megaupload. This is one of the internet’s biggest file sharing sites and with this proving to be extremely wrong by many “hacktivists” who align themselves under the name “Anonymous” started their attack.

They hit hard websites belonging to US authorities as well as music companies and other advocates who were in support of a crackdown on piracy. Following this the discussion of the two bills was halted in its tracks. Many described the attacks as simply a form of exposing the sheer amount of people who are involved within internet piracy as an economy.

Everyone knows it is morally wrong to simply lift work which someone else has done without acknowledgement but in the fight for an “open internet” high profile campaigns were launched to stop new US laws coming into force.

Wikipedia closed for the day with a landing page urging people to make a stance and join the resistance whilst Google “censored” its doodle asking their users to also oppose the legislation. They feel that blocking access to some mass piracy sites will “break the internet” but still through other websites which do not break copyright infringements then views can be expressed.

However is the crack down on piracy motivated by the actual principle or by profit? Most people do not think that digital theft is all that serious. The piracy economy works by four steps:

  1. Online hosting services pay users to upload the most popular files and charge freeloaders for faster downloads.
  2. Search engine giants like Google, Bing and Yahoo earn billions every year just from their online advertising with illegal free music and films as one of their major drives of traffic.
  3. It is then the broadband providers who profit; they charge users for extra bandwidth which they consume downloading free items.
  4. The online advertising industry then earns commission from the ads on pirate sites and brands reach huge audiences without burning a hole in their pockets. These four steps make up the hidden internet piracy economy although strangely many of the companies who benefit from this process claim not to support piracy in any way, shape or form.

Unfortunately as a long term thing this cannot work and if we are looking for a digital economy which will work for all involved then certain people need to stop their addiction to the money which they gain from piracy. Instead they need to show, like Steve Jobs did that value other forms of people’s individual creativity as well as their own.

Is it about piracy though? Many people in the US do not want to wait for their favourite show to go on air and so they use file-sharing sites instead. It is more about the availability than the fact these are free and the same would go for music and movies. The public have a demand for better services and increased availability of items at a fair price

The real question is:

Can you imagine a world without free knowledge?

Let us know your thoughts on the situation and what you think the correct solution to the problem should be. Do you support the piracy and free knowledge or

Email our Editor Hannah, and we will publish some of the comments.